GCSE Geography- Agricultural Issues And Change

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  • Created by: Thea
  • Created on: 30-05-10 14:12


The increasing global population creates a demand for more food and greater efficiency in farming. Attempts to address this rise in demand including the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by the EU and the Green Revolution in LEDCs.

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was set up in 1962 to secure food supplies at a fair price and to improve the standard of living of farmers in Europe.

The demand for more and cheaper food meant that farmers received subsidies for the food that they produced. This led to overproduction and the creation of large surpluses known as grain and butter mountains and wine lakes.

With the expansion of its borders in 2004, the EU could no longer afford to keep paying subsidies. The CAP changed in 2005 to give farmers a single subsidy rather than several different payments. This is known as theSingle Payment System (or SPS). To qualify for the payment farmers have tomanage their land carefully and ensure minimum standards of animal welfare.

Farmers also have quotas, which means there is a limit to how much of certain products they can produce. Land also has to be set aside, ie not used for crops or animals, ito qualify for payment. Set aside land encourages local biodiversityand can be put to other uses such as campsites.

Since the changes to the CAP, overproduction in the EU is no longer the problem it once was.

Consequences of EU Food Mountains

In times of famine, food mountains can be used as aid. In the past, the EU has given its surpluses of food to Africa. In the long term, this reduces the incomes of African farmers and increases unemployment. Countries can also become reliant on aid - therefore it is unsustainable and does not encourage self reliance.

Soil erosion and salinisation

Soil erosion

This is a problem in parts of the UK that are very flat, such as East Anglia. When the soil is left bare after ploughing, the wind can pick up speed due to the flat land and blow away the unprotected soil.

In addition, hedgerows have been removed from farmland to allow machinery to be used more easily and farm the land more intensively. Hedgerows help to hold the soil together and act as valuable windbreaks.

Consequences of soil erosion in MEDCs

· If the topsoil (the most productive layer of the soil) is removed, then crop yields can decline.

· Loss of biodiversity (a diverse range of wildlife) in rivers – fish species find it difficult to breed because they lay their eggs in the gravel at the bottom of rivers and deposition of sediment smothers the gravel. Eggs that are smothered in sediment do not receive sufficient oxygen to survive.

· Roads and footpaths…


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